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Statement about EU referendum result

The recent EU referendum result left a great many colleagues in the School of Modern Languages and Cultures here at the University of Warwick feeling demoralized and even angry. Some of the campaign’s claims and targets, and the subsequent reported instances of intimidation and abuse, run absolutely counter to our core mission as linguists, which is to nurture the advanced appreciation of other cultural identities, and the ability to work across and beyond linguistic or national boundaries. The divisive imagery and language sometimes employed during the campaign felt to many of us like a reversal of social progress, and even a negation of our personal contributions to the local and national economies. We were certainly not alone in regarding the outcome as intellectually unwelcome. British universities were unanimously opposed to Brexit. 28% of academic staff in the UK are not UK nationals.

Given the extent to which uncertainty and anxiety still hang over the vote’s consequences, we feel that it is important to be as precise as possible about the current situation for students and staff. The fee status of current students will not change because of the result, so the relevant Home fee rate will remain in force for the remaining duration of a student’s course. A student’s eligibility to access student loans will not change as a result of the outcome. The Erasmus scheme will continue for at least two years. The lower year-abroad fee level will continue here at Warwick for both the next intake of students and the 2017 intake. EU students who are eligible under current rules to receive loans and grants from the Student Loans Company will continue to be so for courses they are currently enrolled on or about to start this coming year. The Master’s Loans are also still available to eligible EU students. Warwick’s established EU exchange relationships will continue for now, as will its non-EU exchanges and partnerships.

The situation also clearly affects staff. Nearly 500 academics working at Warwick are from EU countries, and a School of Modern Languages and Cultures by its nature employs people of many nationalities. The University of Warwick has confirmed that all signed contracts will be honoured. In addition, Warwick is a founding member of a new Guild of European Research-Intensive Universities, which has stated its intention of lobbying for the free movement of students and researchers across Europe. Legally, nothing has yet changed concerning research bids by UK academics to EU bodies. In truth, it is in no-one’s interests for the UK to be locked out of the free circulation of staff, students or ideas.

Finally, we should recall that like many UK universities the University of Warwick enjoys a global reputation and is highly cosmopolitan in its make-up. Paradoxically, the referendum result has produced a more heightened appreciation of the work done in places such as the School of Modern Languages and Cultures. To this extent, nothing has altered in the ongoing project of advocating both the usefulness and the intellectual, even moral, value to the UK of the study of modern foreign languages. So while we regard the referendum outcome as a setback, we also observe how it has acted as a rallying cry in defence of what we believe. The study of other languages and their cultures is more important now than ever. We know how committed everyone working in UK language departments is to the subjects we teach, and that we will all continue to support that mission, and one another, with talent, determination and a shared set of values.

Seán Hand, Head of the School of Modern Languages and Cultures, University of Warwick, 4 July 2016

Tue 05 Jul 2016, 14:17 | Tags: Modern Languages - News

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